Splitsville: Take a whiff

The numbers don't lie. It's an old adage that should be qualified with "but …" when dealing with baseball statistics. Home runs, ERA and stolen bases can certainly tell you some things about a player, but you've got to look a bit deeper than the standard 5x5 stats to get the entire picture. Splitsville is a weekly look at some of the numbers, but we'll take a deeper look to make sure we're getting the whole story, while also calling out some of the week's notable pitching and batting lines.

2008 Sabermetrics tables (stats through July 28): Batters | Pitchers | Glossary

2007 Sabermetrics tables: Batters | Pitchers

Stat Trends, Streaks and Anomalies

Ian Stewart is hitting .294 in 34 games for the Rockies, and his 2B eligibility makes his 15 runs, four home runs and 20 runs batted in during that span fairly impactful. But what the 23-year-old Stewart has truly come to the front of the pack in is striking out, already whiffing 45 times in just 109 at bats. Among players with at least 100 at bats, he trails only Jack Cust in strikeout rate, and it's close – Cust's current rate (338 AB, 140 K) is every 2.41 at bats, while Stewart comes in at every 2.42 at bats.

Let's take a look at the best players thus far in terms of runs produced (simply R+RBI for our purposes) per plate appearance (minimum 100 PA). At the bottom of the totem pole is Wily Mo Pena, and it's a fairly comfortable margin – though he's totaled 206 plate appearances, he's crossed home plate just 10 times and driven in 10 runs himself, putting his rate at a paltry .097.

Top 10: Ryan Ludwick (.369), Chris Davis (.368), Josh Hamilton (.360), Lance Berkman (.353), Carlos Quentin (.348), Alex Rodriguez (.344), Brian Buscher (.344), Ryan Howard (.342), Marcus Thames (.339) and Mark Reynolds (.338).

It looks like a few weeks in the minors were exactly what Brad Hawpe needed to right the ship. He was hitting just .231/.349/.357 when he was sent to Triple-A on May 20, but he's gone on a tear since being recalled on June 6. He's batted .321 (60 for 1878) since, with 29 runs, 14 home runs and 39 runs batted in, and his 1.014 OPS over that time is good for 12th in the league.

Widely available starters among the league leaders in opponent OPS over the past three weeks (minimum three starts): Jorge Campillo (.489, sixth), Brett Myers (.524, ninth), Jamie Moyer (.578, 15th), Jeremy Sowers (.580, 16th), Paul Byrd (.592, 20th) and Nick Blackburn (.617, 23rd).

Notable Pitching Game(s) of the Week

Brett Myers (Phi – SP, RP) 7/29 at Was
7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 2 K (88 pitches, 63 strikes)
In his second start since being recalled from the minors, Myers notched his first start of the season in which he did not allow at least one earned run, recording just his second win since April 17. Of course the key in his successful line is the zero home runs allowed. He allowed nine in four starts before his demotion (21.0 IP) and still remains tied for the league lead in home runs allowed (25). Perhaps his successful minor league stint, which included just one long ball, 28 strikeouts and a .235 BAA in 27.0 innings, will allow the enigmatic pitcher to contribute to the Phillies and to fantasy teams down the stretch. In 18.0 innings and three starts since being recalled, he's allowed 11 hits, five earned runs, and just one home run, compiling a 2.50 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, with six walks and seven strikeouts.

Notable Batting Game(s) of the Week

Elijah Dukes (Was – OF) 8/1 vs Cin
4 AB, 2 H, 1 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
Dukes' solid first game after a month on the DL serves as a reminder of the great run he was on leading up to his injury. In 29 games from June 5 to July 5, Dukes hit .316 (37 for 117) with 19 runs, 14 extra-base hits (6 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR), 18 runs batted in and seven steals. A few fracases have damaged his reputation as a person, but his baseball skills are not in question. He put together a .297/.381/.484 line in the minors from 2004-06, averaging 29 doubles, six triples, 17 home runs and 26 steals per 500 at bats. He was a popular roster addition during his torrid June, but was quickly sent to waivers en masse (currently owned in fewer than 2% of Yahoo! leagues) after news that his surgery would keep him out for much of the remainder of the season. He's back ahead of schedule – although a calf bruise has limited him in recent days – and should be back on fantasy radars, particularly in deeper leagues.

Gerald Laird (Tex – C) 8/3 vs Tor
4 AB, 2 H, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB
Laird has picked up right where he left off when he went on the DL in late June with a hamstring injury. He was hitting .306 in 183 at bats as of June 20, and has hit .355 (11 for 31) in eight games since being activated, with seven runs, the two home runs and six runs batted in. Despite playing in just 59 games on the season, he's the eighth-ranked C in the Yahoo! game, at 363rd overall. It helps when you are a part of the majors' top offense in batting average, runs scored and slugging percentage. Laird's relatively high on-base percentage (.368, fourth on the team among players with at least 200 AB) has prompted the Rangers to move him to second in the order for the past three games, and he even got the start at DH there on Monday. While Jarrod Saltalamacchia still figures to get somewhat regular starts behind the plate moving forward, his struggles (.235/.338/.341 in 170 AB) mean that Laird is still looking at the lion's share of the playing time, and as he's proven thus far on the season, when he plays he's better than many of the other C currently rostered in fantasy leagues.

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